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Aaron Cook has a 1.33 ERA at Triple-A, can opt out of Red Sox contract on May 1

Apr 24, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Aaron Cook, Andruw Jones AP

Aaron Cook turned in another strong start at Triple-A yesterday, allowing one unearned run in seven innings, and now sports a 1.33 ERA after four starts in Pawtucket.

Cook has a clause in his minor-league contract with the Red Sox that allows him to opt out and become a free agent again if he’s not in the majors by May 1, although he could choose not to use it and give Boston a bit more time to make a decision on his status.

Cook offered no hints about which way he’s leaning, telling Rob Bradford of “I’ll make a decision when I feel like it’s time to make a decision. I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Obviously a 33-year-old veteran dominating Triple-A competition doesn’t mean he’s ready to do the same in the majors, but Cook looks like his old, pre-injury self with a low-90s fastball and tons of ground balls. In a decade with the Rockies he posted a 4.53 ERA in 1,312 innings, including a 4.39 ERA away from Coors Field, so if the Red Sox don’t think they can use him as a fourth or fifth starter there should be at least a few other teams that see a better fit.

  1. plummer2512 - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I think the Sox have to let this guy at least have a start or two but not to ship Bard to the bullpen. Can they skip Buchholz’s start? He’s been TERRIBLE this year!

  2. proudlycanadian - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    If the Red Sox can’t use him, I am sure that several teams can and would be willing to offer him a ML starting gig.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      If the Sox don’t think they can use him they’re insane.

    • bigleagues - Apr 24, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      OK, guys, I’m gonna try and inject some sanity into this discussion. I did a little homework on Cook yesterday (and I posted this previously, but it’s more relevant under this topic).

      I say no to promoting the ‘short-order’ Cook. Why?

      True he is a career .500 pitcher with a 4.53 career ERA.

      Remember he’s 33 years old and has been one of the worst SP in MLB over the last two seasons:

      Cook’s book as a Starting Pitcher over the past two seasons . . .

      9-18, 40 Starts, 5.39 ERA, 88K’s/89BBs, 1/1 K/BB ratio, 270 Hits in 223 1/3IP

      Over that same period of time, he threw his Slider 62.4% out of all his pitches for at an average of 88.8 MPH. This is a guy who has zero confidence in his fastball and even less confidence in his secondary pitches. He induces a hefty number of swings but does not generate many misses.

      He may be effective in a spot Start or two, but ultimately Cook’s stuff is a recipe for disaster in the AL East.

      And this is the guy that everyone thinks should take Bard’s spot in the rotation . . . so Bard can be the *substitute* Closer? Even in the short term? MADNESS!

      Here’s another paste of a comment I wrote yesterday about the complexities of moving Bard. In a nutshell it’s just NOT THAT SIMPLE.

      The Red Sox NEED to do something about the bullpen. However the issue of Bard is far more complicated than most fans pause to consider.

      Short of convincing Roy Oswalt to come out of his temporary retirement a few months early, Bard has shown plenty of potential as a SP and should remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

      Bard wants to Start. Luckily for the Sox, Bard isn’t a Free Agent until 2016, or there wouldn’t be a choice to be made . . . they would be forced to keep him in the rotation. However, finding youthful power arms like Bard’s, and developing them as an effective SP is the preferred course of action every single time.

      If Bailey were out for the season, then part of the problem with taking Bard out of the rotation and sticking him in as Closer would be solved. That is, it is far easier for a starter to move to the bullpen than to move a reliever to the rotation.

      In other words, by taking Bard out of the rotation (especially without a clear viable replacement) and having him Close until Bailey returns is actually more likely to make an already bad situation worse than it is to solve any problems.

      Think of it this way . . . if Bard had never been a reliever and was in his Rookie season as a Starting Pitcher, would any of this discussion about moving him to be Closer even exist? Probably not.

      The Sox also have some alternatives to the dregs in that bullpen down at AAA right now. Alex Wilson, Justin Germano, Will Inman, Garret Mock, Brandon Duckworth could do no worse than what we’ve seen thus far.

  3. 13yrsmlbvet - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Sox need to keep him. Buck will not last the year health wise. He never has and Dice is coming off surgery. Plus, once Beckett realizes he’s out of the running for the Cy Young he’ll pull the plug like he does every year. He stopped throwing bullpens last year around August 1st and had no command of any off speed stuff as season wound down. Got beat on poor execution of breaking balls. Cook is a pro, that team needs some professionalism.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Maybe they can trade him for another marginal OF

    • mcsnide - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      God, I hope Cherington doesn’t read this.

    • garylanglais - Apr 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Bowden wasn’t going to help this team. They have brought him up on multiple occasions and he has failed with each opportunity.

      I could also argue OF is currently just as pressing a need. I don’t know too many people who are thrilled with starting Jason Repko or Darnell McDonald. Also Byrd is 14-for-47 at Fenway (.362/.423/.489). So if you’re going to emphasize this year’s sample size (4-for-47) then the Fenway splits deserve the same emphasis.

      Trading a quickly fizzling out prospect for a major league starting CF is a reasonable move IMO.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        @garylanglais: you’re absolutely right. Bowden had established himself as a big league mop-up guy but he was expendable now that they have Melancon in their system.

      • canowack - Apr 24, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        ^^^Except Melancon has been TERRIBLE!!!!

  5. uyf1950 - Apr 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    What are the Red Sox going to do with Cook. Apparently against all common sense considering the Sox bullpen issues they insist on keeping Bard in the starting rotation. Doubront has pitched pretty darn well so he doesn’t seem like someone they want to take out of the rotation. In reality Lester, Beckett and Buchholz have looked the worst of the Sox starters. But’s it’s doubtful the Sox will remove any of them from the rotation. The clock is ticking on Aaron’s opt out clause what will the Sox do?

    • ras1tafari - Apr 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      The opposite of what we all want.

      – They’ll let Cook walk for nothing

      – Put Bard back in the rotation

      – Keep Bustholz and watch him get hurt and miss 8-12 weeks again

      – Tell us all to wait for Daisuke only to see him nibble his way to a 4-8 record

      • bigleagues - Apr 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        They got Cook for nothing. Letting him walk for nothing is a wash. Besides he has been among the worst SP’s in MLB over the last two seasons. NO THANKS.

  6. petey1999 - Apr 24, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Why can’t the Red Sox sign him to a major league contract and then trade him for a quality reliever? Assuming one is available.

  7. benbosox670407 - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Bring up Cook- let him try his hand at starting.
    Tell Bard- “this is a team sport; not individual events. WE need you in the pen for the moment. we will not try to make your arm fall off. You could eventually grow into the fireball closer you reaslly dream of being…give it time young man.”
    As for the Sox farm- let Anderson stay up and SEE what he can do; quit bouncing him around like yoyomama.Hey- the got Papi as a 1B from the Twins and he grew into the legend (in his mind) that he is today.Heck- they will never know what these farmhands can do unless they try. Bowden was given time and opportunity; was found wanting. Now; it is time to use the farm systme to fill in holes instead of weakassed; reactive moves that give up bodies for worse bodies.

  8. brucewaynewins - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    He should come home to his local team the Cincinnati Reds and the very player who broke his leg 2 or 3 years ago, Joey Votto.

  9. Ben - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:27 AM
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